Today, as we look ahead to the 2012 college football season, let's take a look at five players who will be on the spot in the SEC throughout the fall.
LSU DT Bennie Logan: Michael Brockers received a lot of the publicity inside along the Tigers' defensive line last year — and rightfully so. But Logan was a bit overshadowed, although he arguably made just as big of an impact as Brockers. He also could be a future NFL first-rounder, and he will be joined inside by sophomore Anthony “Freak” Johnson this fall to form a dominant duo. In 2011, the redshirt junior Logan led the Tigers defensive linemen with 57 tackles and led all of their DTs in sacks with three. Along with ends Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery, two elite pass rushers who are future NFL first-round draft picks, coordinator John Chavis will once again have a dominant defensive unit.
ICONVersatile offensive lineman Barrett Jones will start at center for Alabama this fall.
Alabama C Barrett Jones: The versatile Crimson Tide offensive lineman has started primarily at guard and left tackle, and he saw time at four positions along the offensive line last fall. This spring he made the switch to center because of the development of sophomore tackle Cyrus Kouandjio. The 2011 Outland Trophy winner has all of the tools to make yet another transition and show that he's one of the best offensive linemen in the conference's rich history. Could a Rimington Trophy be on the horizon in 2012? No player has won the Outland at guard or tackle and then the Rimington. Jones is talented enough to pull off the feat.
Arkansas WR Cobi Hamilton: Jarius Wright and Joe Adams received a lot of the attention the last few years in the Razorback receiving corps, but Hamilton has the talent to emerge as the No. 1 target for quarterback Tyler Wilson. He caught 34 passes and scored four touchdowns last season, finishing third in receiving yards for the Razorbacks. He is a big target with good open-field speed, and he'll have fellow receiver Chris Gragg to take some of the pressure off of him.
Texas A&M RB Christine Michael: Michael is coming off of a torn ACL and a second consecutive season that was cut short due to injury. He was on pace for a huge campaign in 2011 before the injury limited him to 899 rushing yards in nine games. All eyes will be on new A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin's up-tempo, pass-happy offense. To win consistently in the SEC, the Aggies will have to run the football. And Michael is the team's best weapon with quarterback Ryan Tannehill gone. Even in a tougher league, a 1,000-yard season could be on the horizon for Michael.
Auburn DE Dee Ford: Ford has returned in a big way following back surgery that cut short what looked to be a breakout season last fall. He played in just three games before being shelved the rest of 2011. This spring, he looked ready to emerge as one of the top ends in the SEC and will line up opposite Corey Lemonier on the Tigers' defensive line. The defensive MVP in the A-Day Spring Game, Ford will provide a difficult challenge for opposing offensive tackles. New coordinator Brian VanGorder has to be excited about having two pass-rushing forces on the outside.
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